This article was originally published in Connect, Upwork’s magazine about the modern way of working. See the digital magazine to get inspired.
Nasdaq’s innovative spirit began when it pioneered the first electronic stock exchange in 1971. Since then, the creative implementation of new technology remains part of Nasdaq’s culture. Such as when Josh Machiz, Associate Vice President of Partnerships at Nasdaq, revamped the exchange’s content strategy by focusing on social media. It paid off big.
Machiz saw social media as a vehicle to boost awareness for Nasdaq and its clients in a way that no other exchange had done before. And he creatively used another technology, the freelancer platform Upwork, to build a social media engine.
From the beginning, Machiz followed an insightful strategy: For each client’s IPO day, freelancers created video and other content telling the customer’s IPO story. Why tell their stories? Because Nasdaq lists some of the most innovative companies with incredible corporate cultures. He believed the more people hear about these companies and care why they exist, the more support the companies potentially generate.
Clients aren’t the only ones to benefit. When sharing customer stories, Nasdaq also drives awareness of its brand as a global tech company shaping the capital markets through its technology.
With a small internal team and a handful of freelancers, their initial efforts increased Nasdaq’s social followers from 20K to over a million.
Seeing what was possible with freelancers, Machiz thought, why not use them to build out Nasdaq’s digital media arm? And go bigger by creating Facebook Live shows, launching Facebook Watch programs, and other videos on demand (VOD).
“People in this social media age are scrolling very quickly,” explains Nasdaq’s Head of Social Media, Anna Gonzalez. “You have one to three seconds to catch their attention and hold it. We’re always seeking creative ways to help clients achieve their marketing goals through social. This requires telling their stories in bite-sized ways that will grab people’s attention.”
Content is a differentiator, but continuously creating unique content is a challenge in social where something trending can become outdated within hours. But Machiz and Gonzalez weren’t worried. They had additional support from some of the top freelance creatives worldwide.
A NEW WAY TO BREAK DOWN WORK
To handle the growing workload, Gonzalez adopted a hybrid model where her core team strategizes the creative, then they work with a combination of in-house talent and freelancers to do the work.
“By using a hybrid model, we bring creative leadership in-house instead of giving it to agencies. We can look at big projects and determine which areas require the skills of freelancers,” says Gonzalez. “This allows our core team to focus on our strengths and what we’re passionate about. It lets us dream bigger.”
When a client presents a large, experimental idea, the team asks freelancers for help figuring out how to achieve the clients’ goals. Gonzalez says that often, “Freelancers bring creative, fresh perspectives that help us elevate what the goal is.”.
It takes a village to succeed in social media. “The more creative minds we have and the more people we have who understand the mechanics behind social and what works, the more it’ll help fuel innovation, storytelling, and how we reach people,” says Gonzalez.
One of the largest benefits of utilizing freelancers is scaling up and down in response to the cyclical nature of Nasdaq’s work. This opened new ways for Machiz to optimize their flexibility.
When Machiz and Gonzalez planned to shoot a show for South by Southwest, they built the entire production crew through the Upwork platform. And had them set up before Machiz arrived. For larger crews, they may hire an agency through Upwork to take care of bringing the entire crew together.
“What’s important is that we’re able to find freelancers in different markets where maybe we wouldn’t have the contacts to find them,” says Machiz.
Since Machiz set out to revamp Nasdaq’s content marketing, the company has an Emmy-award winning show, 3 million social followers, and are digital media leaders. And they produce higher quality content and in more variety of media than any other listings company on an IPO day.
The creative and social teams continue seeking new ways to grow with social, including experiments with new technologies like AI and AR. And they’re expanding to service clients worldwide by building freelance teams in other office locations that don’t have a content infrastructure.
They’re also adopting new ways to get larger projects done. “There are so many places where we’re not yet using Upwork that we’re going to be. And that’s going to make us bigger and better than we are today,” says Machiz.
Perhaps you may not overhaul your content marketing as Nasdaq did. But the company makes it clear that change is good—and inevitable if you want to stay competitive. As Machiz says, “You have to invent and reinvent yourself almost every day. Business is quickly evolving and to keep up, you can’t be afraid to disrupt yourself.”
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